I woke up early on the morning of Saturday 16th July with that unmistakable feeling of mild hysteria. This accompanied by a fatigue that only a week of late night sewing, early starts and full-time working can produce effectively (although, carers of small humans, I salute you).
My first Open House with Sydenham Arts Festival was imminent! It's not that I hadn't held an Open house before - my first one in March last year was a modest affair that I had agonised over for weeks.
Too many questions...Would I have enough stock? (Yes)
Would anybody turn up? (Yes. Lots. In fact they stayed long after I 'shut' shop)
Should I serve alcohol? (No. Well, yes. Afterwards. So *that's* why they were reluctant to leave!)
THIS Open House was different because I had been invited to participate and I couldn't quell the feeling that I had entered a special club. Perhaps I would get a badge? (P'rhaps not).
Sydenham Artists are a long standing and talented bunch of creators. I relished the thought of being part of a wider artistic community but...would I fit in? It was also different on another important level.
My solo Open Houses have started at 3pm until 7pm. This has given me enough time in the morning to complete a ritual that involves lots of tweaking, tea, panic (there's a theme here) and a very calm and organised teenager who eventually takes over.
In contrast, Sydenham Open Houses start at 11am (!) and finish at 5pm and runs over the weekend! That's two consecutive days, people! Lawdy! Anyway some of you will know that the weekend before it had all gone a bit Pete Tong so some of the same questions were going through my tired little head - mainly - Would anyone turn up?
In the midst of my mental mayhem, the organiser Annabel turned up to do a Risk Assessment. As I answered the questionnaire - under 'pets' I wrote 'two goldfish'. I don't think that's what they meant - Annabel whizzed around my house adding black and yellow hazard tape to steps and a liability poster for insurance purposes. You know the 'if you slip and fall don't say I didn't warn you - Have a nice day!' kind that really welcomes you inside. Annabel was upbeat and optimistic, giving me lots of encouragement as she left.
Then it started to rain. Heavily. In fact I may even have shaken my fist skywards at this point.
So I wasn't expecting anyone to bother if I'm brutally honest. What with the rain and the mixed up dates and an uncharacteristic peppering of realism/pessimism....and I mentioned the rain, right?
As I popped a mellow Dwele CD in to the player and pressed 'play', I jumped out of my skin (metaphorically, you understand...yuck) when the doorbell went at a quarter past eleven! One friendly face after another started to arrive.
I made tea and we chatted and I sold some bags. I should confess here that it was my mother, on an impromptu weekend visit, who sold the first bag enthusing about one I'd made for her to an unsuspecting client. (I mention mum in passing ,but she deserves an entire blogpost or two. Hold tight)
Then the Pimms came out courtesy of a worryingly proficient teen and the next thing I knew it was almost 5pm! Not only had I survived but I'd had a good time too! The next day was just as much fun with a similar mix of visitors, less rain and more Pimms. WIN!
So what did I learn? The list is a long one but...
I learnt that rain doesn't necessarily stop play.
I learnt that it's not just my friends and family who love what I do.
...and I learnt that yellow and black tape isn't easily removed from pvc door frames.